January 31, 2017

Southwest Power Pool elects Mark Crisson to Board of Directors, approves 13 transmission upgrades


2017 ITP10 One-Page Summary
2017 ITP10 StoryMap

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – At a meeting in Dallas on Jan. 31, the members of Southwest Power Pool (SPP), a regional power grid operator that ensures access to reliable and affordable sources of electricity, elected Mark Crisson to the company’s board of directors and approved construction of 13 transmission upgrades as part of their Integrated Transmission Planning (ITP) process.

Mark Crisson elected to board of directors

The appointment is effective immediately and will expand SPP’s board of directors to 10 members. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in August 2015 approved SPP’s request to revise its bylaws to expand its then-seven-member board of directors by up to three additional seats. Two of the three open positions were filled in January 2016 with the election of Bruce Scherr and Graham Edwards.

“On behalf of our entire membership, I am very pleased to welcome Mark to our board,” SPP President and CEO Nick Brown said. “He brings a distinct and rare set of skills and experiences to our group of directors, and we look forward to benefitting from his insights as we ramp up our engagement in national energy policy discussion.”

Mark Crisson has more than 40 years of experience in the electric utility industry, with 30 of those at the senior executive level. He served as president and CEO of the American Public Power Association (APPA) in Washington, D.C., from 2007-2014. Prior to that assignment, he spent nearly 30 years with Tacoma Public Utilities, serving as its director and CEO from 1993-2007. At Tacoma, he led the electric utility through the western energy crisis in 2001. He also spearheaded Click! Network, the nation’s largest municipally owned telecommunications system.

While at Tacoma, Crisson served 10 years on the APPA board of directors and served as chairman of the board in 2003. He received the Alex Radin Distinguished Service Award in 2005 for exceptional leadership in public power. Crisson also served on the U.S. Secretary of Energy’s Electric Advisory Board; served as chairman of the Large Public Power Council; and earned numerous awards for his work in the Tacoma community, including Business Leader of the Year in 2002.

While at APPA, Crisson worked extensively with both elected and appointed federal officials and other industry stakeholders to promote the interests of public power and the broader electric utility industry. Priority activities included climate change legislation, federal environmental regulations, analysis of ISO/RTO wholesale power markets, grid reliability and cybersecurity. Upon his departure from APPA, the group recognized his achievements in 2015 by creating and presenting him its first annual Mark Crisson Leadership and Managerial Excellence Award.

Crisson’s most recent endeavors include assisting Paducah Power System by serving as its interim general manager for five months in 2014-15 and working with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority as its deputy general manager of Electrical and IT Systems for six months in 2015-16.

Crisson served as a U.S. naval officer in the Pacific nuclear submarine fleet from 1970-1975. He then joined Tacoma Public Utilities as part of its Power Management group, where he rose to lead the Power Supply section in 1982. He left Tacoma in 1983 to serve as power manager for Martin Marietta Aluminum in Portland, Ore. In 1985, he was appointed to lead Direct Service Industries, a trade association of aluminum industries that received power directly from the Bonneville Power Administration. He returned to Tacoma in 1987 to lead Tacoma Power as its light superintendent.

Crisson received a Bachelor of Science with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy and a Master of Business Administration from Pacific Lutheran University.

2017 ITP10 portfolio of projects approved

The board also approved construction of a portfolio of transmission upgrades recommended as part of SPP’s 2017 ITP 10-Year Assessment (ITP10). The board approved 13 of the 14 transmission upgrades recommended in the ITP10 assessment and directed further evaluation of the 14th and final project: a new 345kV line from Potter to Tolk in the Texas panhandle. SPP staff are expected to report on the further evaluation in April.

The ITP10 portfolio of projects is intended to reduce congestion in some of SPP’s most historically constrained areas such as west Texas and southwest Missouri; enable more efficient delivery of clean energy resources and optimize use of SPP’s most efficient conventional resources; and better enable SPP to reliably operate its regional transmission system in accordance with mandatory reliability standards.

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve planned and overseen construction of a robust and reliable extra-high-voltage system backbone, addressed threats to grid reliability and enabled substantial savings achieved through increased access to lower cost resources,” SPP Vice President of Engineering Lanny Nickell said. “With this portfolio, we’re seeking to optimize the grid through projects that are just as necessary and valuable as those included in previously recommended portfolios, but smaller in cost, scope and scale.”

As SPP’s transmission planning and market operation processes continue to mature, the 2017 ITP10 facilitates a healthy progression for the SPP region and addresses a variety of needs — from increased load and congestion to compliance concerns to generating facility retirements to a potential spike in renewable additions — against a backdrop of shifting public policy. It also incorporates generator interconnection and transmission service studies as part of the overall view of the market.

About SPP

Southwest Power Pool, Inc. manages the electric grid and wholesale energy market for the central United States. As a regional transmission organization, the nonprofit corporation is mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale electricity prices. Southwest Power Pool and its diverse group of member companies coordinate the flow of electricity across 60,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines spanning 14 states. The company is headquartered in Little Rock, Ark.

Derek Wingfield, 501-614-3394, dwingfield@spp.org